[…] Richard and Cindy Little, a white couple living in a predominantly white neighborhood, filed a complaint with the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Eventually, they won full reimbursement for their repairs.
Doretha and Roy Kitchens, a black couple living in New Orleans’ overwhelmingly black Lower Ninth Ward, simply gave up and took what their insurer gave them. They didn’t know they could appeal to the state.
Though poor and minority neighborhoods suffered the brunt of Katrina’s fury, residents living in white neighborhoods have been three times as likely as homeowners in black neighborhoods to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes, according to an Associated Press computer analysis.
The analysis of Louisiana’s insurance complaints settled in the first year after Katrina highlights a cold, hard truth exposed by Katrina’s winds and waters: People of color and modest means, who often need the most help after a major disaster, are disconnected from the government institutions that can provide it, or distrustful of those in power.
“The blacks didn’t complain ’cause they got tired,” said Doretha Kitchens, 58, who recalls numerous phone calls to her insurer that often ended with her being put on hold. Ultimately, she accepted her insurer’s offer of about $34,000 for damages that actually total more than $120,000.
The insurance industry and state regulators say they made special efforts — even in the midst of Katrina’s chaos — to reach out to poor and minority neighborhoods to inform them of options.
But their ad appeals on local radio did little to inform the thousands of mostly black residents who were displaced to Houston. And giving a toll free number for help didn’t help poor minorities who stayed behind with no telephone or cell service. Officials acknowledge victims slipped through the cracks.
Nearly 75 percent of the settled cases were filed by residents currently living in predominantly white neighborhoods. Just 25 percent were filed by households in predominantly minority ZIP codes, the analysis found.
Another case of what you don’t know can’t help you.
Should the government have taken extra measures beyond runnings to let the affected minorities know they had options? Is this a case of racial privilege?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
6 thoughts on “>Are Whites Smarter Or Is This Situation Unique?”
>I think by and large white Americans as a group are more informed regarding these types of avenues. It may be because of the relationships that they have garnered over the years. I try to stay pretty informed but I run into caucasions who seemingly take advantage of lots of things that I once didn't know existed, for example, historic tax credits for real estate. There are tons of people in the real estate redevelopment industry now, but a lot of them in St. Louis leave this money on the table because they are unaware. In a city like St. Louis, practically every neighborhood has some historic aspect you could draw from in order to receive these tax credits. What's more, the banks will buy them off you, since they are transferable. I end up finding out about stuff like this because I network with a broad spectrum of individuals, but I think on a whole, that is not the case for African Americans. If it's not an obvious "give-away" we usually don't know about it or if we have received misinformation in the past (see black tax break) we are less likely to believe things are worthy of our investigation, we just chalk it up to a hoax. I'm not sure if they could have done more other than maybe hitting the neigborhoods and/or shelters and passing out information. Once the word gets out in the black neighborhood and a few people validate it, it's usually all good at that point. Other than that, this seems to be the typical outcome.
>I don't think it's a white/black thing. Way back in the day (93) I took an extra job at the hospital I worked at. I became a collection agent against insurance companies and I became incredibly proficient at it. I quickly learned that all correspondence had to be mailed out CERTIFIED because the first thing the insurance companies would do is claim they never got it from me. They will try every trick in the book so it's no wonder that the average Joe wouldn't know about every avenue of recourse he could or would have to take to resolve an issue. Insurance companies don't make billions of dollars in profit annually for no reason. They rely on the uneducated masses to not follow through on claims and even when people file their claims, such as with Katrina, the insurance companies will try and get away with pitching denials at their policy holders to see if they can get away with not paying. Amazingly many people, once rejected, don't follow through.
>i concur with rich. it's all about networking and communication and not rhetoric. i'm sure many of those homeowners living in the lower wards probably went as far as their insurance agent and stopped. mainly because they weren't informed or didn't seek more information, but just settled…probably because everyone they knew that were affected did the same thing…..sounded like the good ol' days of slavery, huh?
>Access to information in this Country has always been an issue when it comes to serving the less fortunate. Unfortunately, many poorer people believe that if someone tells you "no" that is basically it because after all those nice people are here to help you and if they could they certainly would. Yeah, bullshit.The great technical divide that exists in this country will continue to separate those with access from those without. I have a friend who has a piece of property in a rural area that he uses as a weekend getaway. He has gotten all sorts of grants from the Federal Government because he sat up one night on the internet and googled like he had lost his mind.He got his fences paid for, a driveway installed, a new well, and money to buy livestock. Now, he has neighbors who qualify for the same assistance but they haven't taken advantage of it because they are unaware of the programs.Katrina will earn a record in various training manuals as how not to handle a situation. It's hard to believe that all of this has taken place this late in our Country's history.
>i agree with juan as well. white are informed AND the refuse to let there investments & money be jerked around. for example the garbage men went on strike on year during union negitiations, 2 days laters white had an article inthe newspaper demanding to have their bills adjusted – i was like whoa we can do that sign me up. they be on top of it. also, as the women stated in the posting blacks get tired of fighting for every little thing dam near daily! it is taxing and discouraging across the board! i am sitting on a claim right now with my movers becasue i know inthe end i will be fucked after putting in so much time and effort, cause they (insurance company) aint making it easy!
>LBoogie, you must threaten their lives or at least with legal action. Getting a letter from a lawyer to them so they know you mean business would come in handy.